The Monday Move : Lunges

According to the research done by American Council on Exercise (ACE), one of the most effective exercises in working the Butt or the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and the hamstring is the lunges. The Lunge is also a very effective exercise for the legs as well. It involves functional stability, balance and overall body coordination and proper posture alignment, which is very useful for muscle development and conditioning.

Muscles Used:

  • Glutes/Butt
  • Hamstrings (Back of upper thigh)
  • Quadriceps (Front of upper thigh)

How to do a Proper Lunge:

  1. Both feet together, toe pointing forward.
  2. Left leg step forward, shoulder feet apart, with heel landing on the ground.
  3. Shift center of gravity to the mid point of the body, back leg heel raise with ball of foot in contact with the ground.
  4. Lower body by flexing both knees until both knees is at right angle or 90 degree Front knee should not go beyond the front toe. Imagine the back knee dropping a line vertically downward.
  5. Return to original standing position by pushing back the front leg.

Common Mistakes:

  1. Toes not pointing straight forward, which will add unnecessary pressure and stress onto the knee. Always ensure correct alignment before lowering of the body.
  2. Body leaning forward, causing center of gravity to shift forward, adding unnecessary pressure and stress onto the knee. Maintain body erect and spine neutral and look far.
  3. Keeping both your legs in a straight line, will reduce the base area and the centre of gravity to fall outside of the base area which will cause instability and off balance. Keep both feet at least shoulder width apart, which will increases your base of support and makes your body more stable during exercise execution.
  4. Front knee bend beyond the front toe, adding unnecessary pressure and stress onto the knee. Increase the width of between the front and back leg and adjust until both knees are at right angle using mirror or feedback from personal trainers.

Body Bar Lunges 

Beginner Exercises:

Alignment Tool or Balancing Tool: With feet hip distance apart, split your stance (one foot moves forward and the other foot moves back). Place the Body Bar® to the side of you with one end of the bar on the ground right next to the knee of the front foot and the other end lightly grasped in your hand and in close toward the shoulder. The back shin should become perpendicular to the ground with its heel lifted and the front thigh should be perpendicular to the ground with the knee behind the toes. Push through the heel of the front foot and the toe of the back foot to return to the starting position. Keep the elbows lifted (which will keep the chest lifted) to keep the bar in place as you lower down. Keep the bar perpendicular to the ground throughout the lunge.

Intermediate Exercises:

Front Hold: With feet hip distance apart, split your stance (one foot moves forward and the other foot moves back). Fold your arms and place your hands on the opposite shoulder. The Body Bar® will rest right above the elbows with the elbows at shoulder height or slightly below. Keeping body upright, bend both knees as you lower towards the ground. The back shin should become perpendicular to the ground with its heel lifted and the front thigh should be perpendicular to the ground with the knee behind the toes. Push through the heel of the front foot and the toe of the back foot to return to the starting position. Keep the elbows lifted (which will keep the chest lifted) to keep the bar in place as you lower down.

Shoulder Hold: With feet hip distance apart, split your stance (one foot forward, the other back). Bring the Body Bar® up and over your head to rest lightly on the fleshy part of your upper back. Keeping body upright, bend both knees as you lower towards the ground. The back shin should become perpendicular to the ground with its heel lifted and the front thigh should be perpendicular to the ground with the knee behind the toes. Push through the heel of the front foot and the toe of the back foot to return to the starting position. Keep the elbows lifted (which will keep the chest lifted) to keep the bar in place as you lower down. Make sure you do not pull on the bar during the squat, but rest your hands lightly on the underside during execution.

Advanced Exercises:

Other advanced moves include adding balancing elements to regular lunges such as lifting the rear leg to target the glutes (pictured below):

Another option is to lift the knee in front of you (holding for about 5 seconds) for a balancing challenge.

If you are ever unsure of your posture, slow it down or try to find a mirror.  For a cardio combo, perform the lunges as walking lunges (ex. 10 reps up and 10 reps back for 3 sets).

Enjoy the workout and feel the burn!

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